By Beyza Binnur Donmez
ANKARA (AA) - U.S. State Secretary Mike Pompeo confirmed the Hezbollah terror group's presence in South America as a "real threat."
Pompeo's remarks came Monday during an interview with Colombian La W Radio, according to the State Department, in response to a question about how strong American intelligence is on the presence of Hezbollah in Venezuela.
"Well, I don’t talk about particular pieces of intelligence, but make no mistake about it: We have the threat of Hizballah not only in the Middle East but in South America as well," he said using the State Department’s spelling of the group’s name.
Pompeo stressed that a dozen-plus leaders from all across Central and South America and from the Caribbean, who arrived in Colombia to participate in the third Regional Conference Against Terrorism, are "working together to develop systems and processes and intelligence-sharing operations such that the threat not only from Hizballah but all other terror groups can be mitigated."
Responding a question whether ExxonMobil's business with the government of Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela, which is not recognized by the U.S. and is under severe sanctions for more than a year, constitutes a "contradiction," Pompeo said: "Individual decisions that we make are constantly subject to review."
He added that the Trump administration will continue to deem Maduro's government illegitimate and work with opposition leader Juan Guaido to put an end to the Maduro regime.
Regarding a question on the implementation of the peace agreement between Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), Pompeo said: "From the way the United States observes this, we leave these domestic issues to the people of their country."
Colombia and the FARC reached a peace deal in November 2016, ending more than 50 years of conflict between the sides. Following the demobilization of the leftist rebel group, the Common Revolutionary Alternative Force Party was established, which is represented in the country’s Congress.
In mid-December, The leader of FARC's political arm, Rodrigo Londono, also known as Timochenko, said the implementation of the peace process is "in danger," because "it is advancing at a turtle pace and it is not done integrally".
However, Pompeo took a swipe at Venezuela again, saying that the U.S. aims to deliver "free and fair elections" to theLatin American country.
Since the beginning of 2019, Venezuela has been embroiled in political unrest as Maduro and Guaido engage in a power battle, while the country's economy has been in precipitous decline following a global downturn in the price of crude oil.